We’ve been digging into SEO (Search Engine Optimization) one little bite at a time. From NoFollow links to Alt Text. But before we dig deeper, I wanted to create a glossary of essential SEO terms every blogger should know.
As a scientist by trade, I know that, when you’re trying to learn new things, there is nothing more confusing than a bunch of unfamiliar jargon. And scientists and techies love their jargon and fancy words.
When I was in college, my husband helped me study flashcards for my classes. He had a “nightmare” one night where I was trying to explain immunology to him. Dream Me kept saying “It’s all about the agglutination“. He (awake husband) told me about the dream and that he didn’t even know what agglutination was.
Well, immunology is a lot about the agglutination. Hubby had absorbed the word and a vague knowledge of the concept from the repetition of flashcards, but he didn’t know what the term actually meant and how it related to immunology.
This anecdote reflects how I feel about SEO a lot of times. I recognize that word. It has something to do with SEO. It means…uh, SEO stuff, brain hurts…
So, before we dig deeper into SEO, here is a list of 40 essential SEO terms to know as a blogger. I’ve tried to break down each term in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions (…any other Breakfast Club fans out there…?) to try and make SEO a bit less intimidating. So, here we go:
1. 301 Redirect
A redirect is when you visit one web page and then you are automatically sent (or redirected) to a different web page (with a different URL/web address).
There are 2 types of redirects: permanent and temporary. From a visitor’s perspective, there’s no difference. For search engines, there is.
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect. It tells the search engines that the page has changes it’s web address permanently. This means all SEO page rankings for the redirected page should be transferred to the new URL. (Not so for temporary redirects).
Tip: When you delete a page or post on your website, you should always set up a 301 redirect for that page or post to a new location. Broken links from deleted pages are bad for SEO (and users). Making sure you redirect links is an important step in your SEO.
2. Alt Tag
Aka alt text. Alt tags are an HTML attribute for images. The alt tag/text is displayed in cases where the image can’t be loaded (if the file is missing, for example).
The alt tag also has SEO and accessibility value. Search engine bots can’t “read” an image. They use the alt tag to tell them what the image is of or about. The alt tag also has some SEO value with relation to keywords. Screen readers also read the alt tag for vision impaired internet users.
RELATED POST: Four Common Image Mistakes Made by Bloggers
3. Anchor Text
When you add a link to a post or page in your blog, it has 2 elements:
- The web address the link points to
- The anchor text
The anchor text is the text displayed and that your user clicks on to visit the linked web page.
For example, a link to this website may use the anchor text Georgia Lou Studios but the web address link is: https://georgialoustudios.com. The elements put together turn into this: Georgia Lou Studios.
Anchor texts are particularly important in SEO. Anchor text should contain keywords relevant to the linked web page. Links that use unrelated anchor text can be considered spammy by search engines and hurt SEO. Too many spammy links may even result in search engine penalties and less organic traffic.
This SEO term makes a lot of sense once you understand it. Backlinks are web links that link back to your site from another website.
Quality backlinks are one of the most important factors in SEO. Note I said quality backlinks.
Gone are the days that you could build a bunch of backlinks on poor quality websites across the internet and improve your SEO. Google and other search engines caught on to that scam a long time ago.
The most influential backlinks come from sites that are high quality (contain good quality content) and have good Domain Authority. Good backlinks should also contain relevant keywords in the anchor text.
Building quality backlinks to your blog is one of the quickest and most powerful ways to improve your site’s SEO.
5. Black hat SEO
Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies. Like everything else, the internet and SEO has a Dark Side. But you should avoid the Dark Side of SEO, aka black hat SEO.
Black hat SEO is the term coined to describe all SEO practices considered manipulative and unethical. Black hat SEO can hurt your site or even get it blacklisted (removed) from the search engines. So, stay away from the Dark Side.
Of course, search engine algorithms are constantly changing. Something that was okay one day might suddenly become black hat the next. It’s important to stay informed about basic changes in SEO for this reason.
6. Canonical tag
You’ve probably heard that search engines hate duplicate content and treat such content harshly. The canonical tag is an HTML link element that can be used to avoid duplicate content penalties.
The canonical tag is placed in the HEAD of a web page or post (using an SEO plugin can be helpful for this). It looks something like this:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com/” />
The canonical tag informs search engines that the current page is a copy of the page located under the address set in the tag.
The idea is that when a search engine reads this tag it doesn’t rank the page or post. Instead, it transfers all the rankings to the canonical page. In essence, it’s similar to the 301 redirect.
Aka page cloaking. Cloaking is the practice of building a web page in a way that it displays differently for human readers versus search engine bots.
With this practice, in theory, you can get good ranking for your desired keywords by presenting an optimized page to the crawlers. Then you present real people with unrelated offers and content.
To be clear, this practice is totally a black hat SEO practice that can get your blacklisted or penalized by the search engines. So, cloaking would be a big, fat DON’T.
8. Deep Linking
Deep linking is creating a link that points to a specific page, post or image on a website, instead of that website’s main or home page. These links are called deep links.
Deep links are valuable for SEO. When you link to specific pages or posts within your site using good anchor text, it improves the rankings of these pages. Essentially, building deep links is where the SEO game is won or lost.
So, to “win” the SEO game, you want to build deep backlinks, backlinks that link back to internal pages and posts on your blog and not just the home page.
9. Do-follow link
The HTML rel link attribute can be used to tell search engine crawlers whether or not to “follow” a link on your website.
The default state of a link is do-follow. A do-follow link is the most valuable in terms of SEO. When building quality backlinks from high quality sites to improve your SEO, you want those links to be do-follow so that SEO “juice” is passed from that site to your own.
On the other side of the coin, you have to be careful what kind of do-follow links “leave” your own site. If your site links out to a bunch of low quality sites and links that the search engines consider spammy, your SEO ranking can be hurt or you may even be penalized.
Remember that by default a link is do-follow. It is important to add nofollow to links like sponsored ad links and other “low quality” links leaving your website.
RELATED POST: What You Need to Know About NoFollow Links
10. Domain name
Your blog’s domain name is it’s unique address on the internet. For example, the domain of this site is georgialoustudios.com.
Each domain name has at least 2 parts:
- The part before the dots
- The part after the dots
The “part before the dots” is the domain. This site’s domain is georgialoustudios to match our business name.
The “part after the dots” is the top level domain (TLD). In this case .com. “.com” is one of the original top level domains and the most sought after.
But lots of other TLDs exist. .org and .net are some of the oldest along with .com. Newer TLDs are being created on a regular basis including top levels like .co, .blog and .website. There are also country specific TLDs like .us or .co.uk.
Some domains may have a 3rd part before the domain. Like the blog for the Buffer app: https://blog.bufferapp.com/. This is called a subdomain. It allows sites to create a sub-site that lives in a different “folder” on their website and can be setup and run independently of the main domain.
Some hosted blogs (Blogger.com and WordPress.com sites) live on a subdomain of the host, like: myblog.blogspot.com or myblog.wordpress.com. You can purchase a unique domain name for these sites, however. And having your own unique domain name, rather than a subdomain, is considered more “professional” by most bloggers.
11. Duplicate Content
If your blog has two separate pages or posts that contain the same (or very similar) content then you have duplicate content.
Duplicate content is bad for your SEO. Google doesn’t like sites that use the same piece of content over and over again. You can be penalized for duplicate content.
And just to be clear, this also applies to duplicate content on a different site as well. Publishing the same content on different sites can hurt the SEO for each place you post the duplicate content.
Tip: This is where canonical tags come in handy.
If you think you’re safe from duplicate content, think again. Here’s an example. Say your site runs on WordPress. If you use similar categories and tags (like for example a tag “business” and a category “business”), then the archive pages for these tags and categories will probably be very similar, if not exactly the same. That is an example of duplicate content. But using a Robots.txt file can help save you from automatically created duplicate content. See #30 for more info about Robots.txt.
There are lots of different definitions for keywords. But let’s just worry about defining it in terms of SEO.
Keywords are single words or multi-word phrases that are of particular SEO importance for a given page, post or website.
For example, if I’m writing a post about choosing the best gardening tools, my main keyword could be “gardening tools”. This is the keyword I want to rank for in the search engines because I want people to find this post when they search for this phrase on Google or Bing.
Your keyword should ideally be present in your post title and sprinkled throughout your post content. Note, I said sprinkled. You do not want to get caught keyword stuffing. See #14 below for more on that black hat SEO tactic.
13. Keyword Density
Keyword density is a statistic used to describe how often a specific phrase (keyword) appears in a piece of text.
To calculate keyword density, you divide the number of times your keyword appears in your content by the total number of words in your article. Then you multiply the result by 100 to get the density which is expressed as a percentage.
Keyword density can affect SEO. Clearly, a keyword should be present in your content if you want to rank for that keyword in the search engines. If that keyword appears repeatedly in your content (high keyword density) it stands to reason that the content is related to that keyword and should rank well. However…
However, having too high a keyword density can harm your SEO and is considered the previously mentioned keyword stuffing (see #14). Very high keyword density used to work as an SEO tactic but as the search engine algorithms became more sophisticated, this tactic became total black hat SEO.
So what is the optimal keyword density? Experts disagree (as they do about most things), but most consider the concept of keyword density a bit simplistic. And as complicated as the search algorithms have become, that’s probably true. But for the sake of simplicity and sanity, most experts recommend a density of 0.5% to 3%. Yoast SEO, the WordPress SEO plugin masters, for example, recommend 0.5% to 2.5% currently.
If you’re worried about keyword density, there are a couple tools online to check it:
- SEO Book – http://tools.seobook.com/general/keyword-density/
- Internet Marketing Ninjas – https://www.internetmarketingninjas.com/seo-tools/keyword-density/
- Small SEO Tools – http://smallseotools.com/keyword-density-checker/
To name just a few.
14. Keyword Stuffing
Ah, finally we get to the infamous keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is the practice of using a word or phrase over and over again in a piece of content; using it far more often than natural.
Keyword stuffing is now considered black hat SEO and most importantly, it won’t help improve your SEO. It will however, hurt your SEO, so use your keywords with restraint and in the most natural way possible and you’ll be golden.
15. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
And really, the standard definition of Latent Semantic Indexing is impossible to understand unless you live and breathe SEO.
So, let’s go with a more intelligible version. And what you, as a blogger, needs to understand about LSI.
LSI is an important factor for search engines when they rank your page. It’s said by experts that search engines analyze the content on your page and search for LSI keywords that support your main keyword (think synonyms and terms with similar meaning here). If search engines find these kinds of keywords, then your page gets a boost in rankings for your main keyword.
In the simplest terms, LSI keywords are keywords that are similar to your main one – keywords usually found along your main keyword in the natural language.
So, if my primary keyword is “gardening tools”, then LSI keywords might include: hoe, rake, trowel, plants, vegetables, garden, planting, etc. These are words that would naturally be used in a conversation about gardening tools.
So, writing naturally without keyword stuffing is enhanced through the use of LSI keywords.
We’ve all seen linkbait. It’s those posts on Facebook that you just can’t resist clicking on.
Creating linkbait is like fishing, but for link clicks instead of fish. Linkbait is a piece of highly viral content, content that is most likely to attract a lot of link clicks.
Creating your own linkbait content is usually very hard even though the principles are simple. There’s quite a bit of research and science behind creating viral (linkbait) content including: (1) create something really funny, (2) create something of exceptional quality, (3) create something that brings a lot of value for free.
Linkbait content is not only text. Videos, pictures, graphics, and audio work equally well and often better on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
17. Link Building
Link building is huge in terms of SEO. It is the process of getting backlinks to your page.
Most experts consider this the best and most important way to improve your SEO.
Backlinks, in essence, tell search engines that other people, other sites, are talking about your content and linking to it as a resource. If these backlinks are coming from quality sites with great content and high domain authority, then these backlinks add SEO juice to your site.
Keep in mind that for backlinks to be helpful, they must be high quality, do-follow links.
18. Link Farm
A link farm is a network of websites built with the sole purpose of linking to each other and increasing their SEO rankings.
Example, you build a network of 4 websites where sites #1, 2, 3 and 4 link back and forth to each other a excessive number of times. Well, a network of 4 sites won’t do much for SEO but some farms contain thousands of sites!
Warning, link farming is total black hat SEO and can get your blacklisted and penalized. Another DON’T.
19. Link Sculpting
Link sculpting is the practice of using the nofollow attribute on internal links within your website to signal that some internal pages are not important for SEO.
In theory, you can increase the rankings of some pages by granting them follow links and decrease the rankings of others by using nofollow links.
This practice requires a lot of knowledge and practice to do right. And many experts believe it’s no longer effective due to the way search engines handle nofollow links. So, just don’t waste your time.
20. Meta Description
A meta description a short description of a blog, page or post used mostly by search engines.
This description is usually not displayed anywhere on your blog.
Here’s how Google uses the meta description. When someone searches a specific keyword, Google makes a decision which websites should be displayed and in what order. For each website in the search results, Google displays a title and a short description. Google has two ways of putting the short description together:
- If the meta description of the page contains the keyword used by the user, then Google displays the designated meta description.
- If the meta description doesn’t contain the keyword, then Google displays a fragment of the page’s content that does contain it.
Using relevant meta descriptions for each page or post is important for how your search results rank and display.
WordPress SEO plugins like Yoast SEO let you create custom meta descriptions for your posts or pages. In Blogger, you can activate the Meta tags on the Settings > Search Preferences page. This will allow you to add a meta description to your site and each post and page.
21. Meta keywords
The meta keywords are a list of keywords and keyphrases for each blog/page/post. This list is used mainly by search engines.
Current theory is that major search engines don’t pay any attention to meta keywords while ranking your website. This is likely true. Nevertheless, setting keywords won’t do any harm either.
Including your main keyword as meta keywords might be a good idea. For this post, I would include the meta keywords SEO glossary and SEO terms.
22. Meta tags
Meta tags are considered a part of proper site SEO. They consist of two main elements: meta description, and meta keywords.
Meta tags are placed in the HEAD section of the HTML structure of your website. Meta tag info is meant specifically for search engines to read. It helps them determine what your page is all about. (See #s 20 and 21 above for more info)
23. Natural links
Natural links are all the external links that point at your page that were naturally acquired without you doing any “link building”.
For example, if you wrote a really great post that goes viral on social media and a lot of other sites and blog end up linking to it because they like it so much, all those links are natural links.
Nofollow is likely one SEO term you’ve heard of before.
It is an optional attribute of a link. However, being “optional” doesn’t make it unimportant. In fact, it’s the most important attribute from a SEO standpoint.
RELATED POST: What You Need to Know About Nofollow Links
By default, links are Dofollow. This means that when a search engine encounters the link, it follows it. The search engine checks where the link leads to and takes it as a “vote”. A vote by the linking website to the website that is being linked to. This passes some “SEO authority” or “link juice” to the linked page. (Bear in mind that authority can be good or bad depending on the quality of the linking site.)
The nofollow attribute tells the search engine that it should totally ignore the link – no vote, no link juice.
From your readers perspective, nofollow links look exactly the same as their follow brothers and sisters. They are only important for search engines.
In order to create a nofollow link just add one extra attribute to an HTML link:
An example nofollow link:
<a href=”http://www.google.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Google</a>
25. Off-page SEO
The two main elements of SEO are “on-page” and “off-page”.
Off-page SEO practices are everything you do outside your page/website to improve its search engine rankings.
The main element of off-page SEO is link building, cultivating high-quality Dofollow links to your site.
26. On-page SEO
The two main elements of SEO are “on-page” and “off-page”.
On-page SEO practices are everything you do on your page/website to improve its search engine rankings.
On-page SEO includes things like:
- Optimizing site HTML structure
- Improving title tags and descriptions
- Making your site load faster
- Checking keyword usage and density
- Improving internal linking structure (the way your pages are linked to each other)
27. Organic Search
You’re doing organic search when you visit Google, Bing or another search engine. You input your search phrase and push the search button.
28. Organic Search Results
When you do a search on Google, Bing or another search engine, the results are often returned in two columns. The right-hand column displays paid results (ads that someone has purchased). The left-hand column are the organic search results.
Getting high rankings in organic search results is what SEO is all about. Organic search results are free, targeted traffic, the very best kind of web traffic.
PageRank or PR is an algorithm created by Larry Page, one of two founders of Google. It is used to calculate the” importance” of a given website.
No one’s 100% sure how PR actually works or what all the factors are because Google is not transparent with their algorithms. However, common belief is that one of the ranking factors is the number of backlinks a site has and the PageRanks of the sites linking to it.
So, the more quality back links you have, the better your PageRank will be.
Pages with highest PageRanks are usually sites that are highly recognizable and popular around the internet. Google.com has a PR of 10. Facebook is PR9 website. Yahoo – PR9.
Robots.txt is a file that lives on your website. It’s a particularly important file for SEO.
Robots.txt notifies search engines which areas of your blog are restricted for them and that they should not index.
Restricting search engines from indexing some of your pages might not sound like a good idea at first, but in fact, it’s a very valuable thing.
First of all, you can exclude all your admin pages from indexing (for example, pages in the wp-admin section of your WordPress blog). There is no value in indexing these pages and in fact, you really don’t want your protected pages showing up in search results.
You can also use Robots.txt to prevent search engines from crawling any duplicate content on your site. For example, you can stop them from indexing the category listings on your blog, so only the tag listings are indexed, or the other way around. It’s a very useful file.
Many WordPress SEO plugins help you optimize your Robots.txt painlessly. And Blogger has a special setting where you can edit your file.
You can (and should) learn more about Robots.txt here:
(I seriously don’t know how I inserted this awesome link thing above into this post, but it’s pretty cool, so, I’m just gonna leave it.)
31. Search Engine
Google, Bing, and AskJeeves are examples of search engines.
Search engines are an example of a software applications. Their task is to search the internet for an input phrase.
Search engines have algorithms for doing this. These algorithms are used to decide which sites appear first in the search results (which sites are the most relevant).
The algorithms that search engines use are not public. This is why everyone involved with SEO can only guess at measures that can be used to improve site rankings.
SEM is short for Search Engine Marketing.
It is a term used to describe “marketing via search engines”. Promoting and marketing your products or services via search engines can be done in two ways:
- You can optimize your site so that it ranks high in organic search results, or
- You can pay for ads that appear in search results alongside the organic results. In this case, your site is listed under the “sponsored listings” section.
Organic traffic is considered “free” traffic while ads obviously cost to run.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
SEO is the practice of improving your site’s rankings in the search engines for specific target keywords.
When improving SEO, you need to address both on-page and off-page SEO. The tasks needed to improve SEO change nearly every day. What worked perfectly yesterday may not work at all tomorrow. Or may even hurt your SEO. That’s just the reality of SEO. It’s why SEO is a never-ending task.
SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page.
A SERP is the page that is displayed when you search for a specific keyword on Google or another search engine.
35. Spider (crawler, bot, robot)
A search engine spider is a piece of software that browses the web, looks for new sites, checks what’s going on on them and then ends the data back to Google (or another search engine) so the site can be indexed and ranked.
36. Supplement Result
A Supplemental Result is a URL that exists in Google’s supplemental index (aka sandbox), a secondary database listing pages of less importance, as measured by Google’s PageRank algorithm.
A supplemental page will still rank in search results, but only if there are not enough pages in the main index that are returned within the search.
37. Title Tag
Every web page has a title tag. For visitors, the title tag is visible in one place – the browser’s title bar or tab.
For example, the title tag of the page you’re reading right now is: “40 Essential SEO Terms Every Blogger Should Know“.
The title tag is an important SEO factor. There’s no better way for a search engine to find out what a page is about than by looking at its title tag. That’s why you need to spend time creating the perfect title tag for your pages (or posts).
In general, for the best SEO for your pages, it’s recommended that your title tag appear before your site name. Example, for this post, the whole string looks like: “40 Essential SEO Terms Every Blogger Should Know | Georgia Lou Studios”
If you’re using WordPress then setting up your title tag is rather simple. In general, every new post receives a title tag that’s the same as the post title. However, if you want to change the title tag, you can use an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO. This plugin provides a simple way to change the title tag of any page or post on your blog.
Blogger uses the post or page title for your title tag by default. A well-designed blogger template will format your titles correctly with the page title first followed by the site title.
38. URL (URI)
URL (URI) is short for Uniform Resource Locator. It is simply the address of a specific web page.
For example, the URL of the post you’re currently reading is:
39. White hat SEO
As opposed to the black hat SEO, white hat SEO is all the SEO practices search engines encourage you to use. These are methods that will help improve your SEO and won’t cause you to incur a penalty that could damage your search rankings and traffic.
There’s no official reference page listing which SEO practices are white hat or black. So, to stay up to date with what’s recommended and what isn’t, you should make a habit of reading the most popular SEO blogs, and some in-house Google blogs like these two: Official Google Blog, Official Google Webmaster Central Blog.
40. XML Sitemap
An XML Sitemap is a file (usually sitemap.xml). This file’s main function is to give search engines a map of all the URLs that your blog contains (all pages, posts, archives, etc). An XML sitemap helps search engines index your site much faster.
If you’re using WordPress you don’t have to create this file on your own. Most SEO plugins, like Yoast SEO will create the XML sitemap for you, all you need to do is activate it: Enable XML Sitemaps in the Yoast SEO Plugin.
For Blogger, this article will help walk you through generating and setting up your XML sitemap: Create Blogger Sitemap & Add to Google Webmaster Tools 2017.
Sum It Up
Whew, that’s a lot of terms. But is it all there is to know when it comes to SEO lingo? No, but knowing these terms will definitely make you feel less out to sea when it comes to learning about and implementing SEO on your blog.
This is a great tool to bookmark and return to as you dig into more SEO articles. When you run into an unfamiliar term, you can return and refresh your memory with my glossary of terms.
Now, go out and SEO!